POLITICS

MP's Heart-Rending Song Will Change How You Look At Canada (VIDEO)

12/04/2013 12:21 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Canadians like to think that the expansion into the West was more civilized here than in the United States -- this song will change that.

In "Four Horses", NDP MP Charlie Angus sings the agonizing story of John A. MacDonald's policy to starve First Nations peoples in order to make way for the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880s.

Angus was inspired by the book Clearing The Plains by James Daschuk, which details how food promised in Treaty No. 6 was withheld by Canadian officials in order to force aboriginals to move to appointed reserves.

At the time, MacDonald even boasted that First Nations peoples were being kept on the "verge of actual starvation" in an attempt to silence critics of the mounting cost of the railway, according to Daschuk.

MacDonald's policies were recently cited in an open letter urging the United Nations to declare Canada's treatment of its aboriginal peoples "genocide."

Angus told The Globe and Mail that MacDonald did many good things for Canada, but that we can no longer ignore "the policies that tried to destroy a people."

"Mr. Macdonald has been able to escape all that because we write our history as boring, that all our people were well-meaning and boring," Angus said to the Globe. "So that’s the whole line of the song: Forget what you were taught about the Medicine Line."

Angus, who is also a professional musician and HuffPost blogger, has been an outspoken critic of the Conservative government's approach to First Nations peoples. In 2011, he was among the first to shine light on the deplorable situation on the Attawapiskat reserve in his Northern Ontario riding. The emergency on the reserve captured the attention of the nation and is seen by many as the opening act of the Idle No More movement.

"Four Horses" is the first song off Angus' new record "Great Divide." Read all the lyrics below.

To Fort Qu'appelle came a Dapple Grey

​​​​As children coughed blood in the autumn rains

Broke the treaty when the buffalo failed

​​​And fenced the land for the CP Rail.

There's four horses at the Great Divide

Forget what they taught about the medicine line

Like a storm on a distant sky

Just four horses at the Great Divide

I saw a black horse at Cut Knife Creek

But the great Poundmaker was a man of peace

He spared the soldiers true to his word

So they hung the braves at Fort Battleford

The Third Horse danced for the Great White Chief

Hunger is lesson that is so easy to teach

Kill a warrior you need a gun in hand

To break a people you need a bureaucrat man

There's four horses at the Great Divide

Forget what they taught you about the medicine line

Like a storm on a distant sky

Four horses at the Great Divide

A pale horse waits by the mission school

Progress they say can be so cruel

But the spirit lives on across the great north plains

And people are finding their voice again.

Also on HuffPost

Residential Schools: A Photo History